By Ginger DeShaney
It was a match made in party heaven. Colleen Dunleavy knows flowers. Crystal Mills knows cocktails. They met six years ago doing a photo shoot and immediately hit it off professionally and creatively.
“Colleen and I are such a great match,” Crystal said. “We had a friendship from Day 1, and it’s been amazing for us to know each other’s strengths and build our business as business partners.”
Today, their business, “Love Child,” combines blooms and booze and is making a name in South Boston.
“Flowers and cocktails go hand in hand,” said Colleen, who also owns Dunlovely Floral Design while Crystal also owns WanderLush, a craft cocktail business. “Flowers and cocktails make people feel better and put smiles on their faces.”
Colleen and Crystal, both 34 years old, share a passion for hosting. “We love finding reasons to gather and celebrate,” Colleen said. “We love to bring people together and connect with the community.”
Love Child’s mission is simple: fostering celebrations, connections, and creativity.
“I love that we can play a role in continuing to help people to celebrate — even if it’s just the everyday, mundane things in life — during what is such a hard time for all,” said Crystal. “It’s really kept our spirit alive, too.”
Located at 317 E St., just off Broadway, the small space packs a big punch. It’s a micro venue, a retail shop, and a workshop space.
Love Child was supposed to open to the public the weekend Boston shut down in March because of the pandemic. The delay didn’t deter this dynamic duo. After coming up with creative ways to grow their customer base during the shutdown, Love Child opened its doors as a retail shop in June and started hosting events in August. So far, Love Child has hosted five private events, including a brunch, a birthday party, and a mother-daughter lunch.
Up to eight people are allowed for each event. The host can bring in their own food, or they can order from a Love Child menu curated by Tim Chatigny, the chef at Lincoln. The event can be contactless, or the host can have a Love Child representative on hand.
Colleen and Crystal transform the retail shop into the event venue by moving things to the small back room, repurposing items as venue pieces, and keeping many of the pieces out as decor.
“When people come in to shop, they are shocked it can be rented out as a venue,” Colleen said.
The original business plan was to provide the space full time as an event venue and a place for the duo to host workshops. The retail store was not part of the plan. “One thing that brings us together is the creativity we both have,” Colleen said. “We are constantly bouncing ideas off each other.”
Their Blooms + Booze workshops are very popular. “Everybody LOVED it,” Crystal said. “It’s combining two things most people like, and it’s a lighthearted and educational class. What’s not to love?”
They offered the workshops virtually during the shutdown and will soon be releasing a new class schedule. A private group of up to six guests at Love Child learn to make a signature cocktail — along with some Mixology 101 — and then are instructed on how to make something beautiful with flowers. The class themes are also seasonal.
In addition to Colleen’s fresh and dried flower arrangements and Crystal’s cocktail kits, the retail space also features pieces and gifts by local artists and makers, many of them women. “We’re building an army of female entrepreneurs,” Colleen said, noting the duo brings in pieces by small-batch makers who share their missions.
“The more we can lift each other up, the better,” Colleen said.
Love Child’s neighbor, Neatly Nested, has been a vital partner, too.
Colleen and Crystal have been working with Danielle McClure at Neatly Nested for years. “She believed in us years ago when we did Blooms + Booze classes in her store, and she continues to do so,” Colleen and Crystal agree. “She has played a role in helping us also understand retail, which is new to both of us, and overall to just have another fellow Southie business owner is such a blessing for us.”
Love Child’s retail shop is currently open three days a week, Thursday through Saturday, but as the holidays approach, the shop will add hours.
“We want people to think of us as a neighborhood spot to run in and grab a gift or to treat themselves,” Colleen said.
Follow Love Child on Instagram @_ _ _lovechild_ _ _ and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/lovechildco.